We are the Ultimate Guide to Meaningful and Healthy Travel with Hands-On Travel Advice!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

COVID-19 Shatters the Cruise Industry, but Viking Places Hopes in First PCR Laboratory At Sea On The Viking Star

If you are an avid cruiser like so many travelers, you miss the smell of the ocean air! So, when will be able to get back to normal following the global pandemic of 2020?  Among those affected, there is no doubt that the cruise industry is finding it hard to cope with COVID-19. 

Until recently, cruises were the fastest growing sector of the travel industry. Until 2019, the demand increased by 20.5 percent. 

In the global cruise market, there are over 50 cruise lines and more than 270 ships, however, just around 75 percent of the market is controlled by three main players

You probably remember that as many countries across the globe closed their borders in response to COVID-19, thousands of passengers were kept at sea, while vessels sought a port to dock. In mid-March, Canada banned all ships with more than 500 people from docking in their ports. Australia, New Zealand and the United States banned all ships arriving from foreign ports and directed all foreign flagged ships to leave the country. Consequently, passengers were quarantined on board for nearly a month before being repatriated. There were countless other examples, and while almost all of these cruise passengers eventually disembarked, many crew members remain on vessels across the world, either quarantining or manning the ship until the industry resumes operations. 

The current COVID-19 environment has created a high degree of public concern about the maintenance of health and safety onboard cruise ships. Ships will now require robust screening and monitoring protocols, implementation of comprehensive sanitation practices with regular inspections, expanded onboard medical facilities and increased medical staff. Some cruise lines have decided to implement novel facilities to ease passengers' hesitancy to get back onboard. 

Viking® ( announced that it has completed installation of the first full-scale PCR laboratory at sea. This new onboard facility – an industry first – allows for unprecedented testing capacity in the cruise industry, enabling Viking to conduct PCR testing of all crew members and guests with a non-invasive saliva test. The laboratory has enough capacity for daily testing of every crew member and guest, which provides flexibility to respond to COVID-19 prevalence levels around the world.

This first laboratory has been installed on Viking Star, the company's award-winning 930-guest ocean vessel; it will undergo a series of extensive tests to ensure the procedures and protocols that have been designed are fully effective.

"We have been working on this for a number of months, and today is important as it moves us one step closer to operating cruises again, without compromising the safety of our guests and crew. The recently announced CDC guidelines are clearly aligned with our public health research, and we welcome the agency's push toward testing, as we believe this is the only way to safely operate. In our view, continuous PCR testing, along with our extensive onboard hygiene protocols, will lead to making Viking ships a safe place to get away to and explore the world," said Matt Grimes, Vice President of Maritime Operations for Viking.

Plan now for trips later! Pickpockets are very common when going to any crowded cruise port. LTD can't stress enough the importance of antitheft bags and vigilance! We recommend the Sherpani AT sling bag for men or women.  It is lightweight, comfortable and looks great!  This is especially good for persons with back pain to minimize pressure on the spine.  The anti-theft features include zipper locks, anti slash bottom and strap, chair loop lock system and RFID protection.  Click the photo to learn more at Amazon and support our blog because we may earn a small commission on anything you purchase but it won't cost you anything extra! We donate proceeds to charity! Thank you so much!!!

Viking planned demonstrate the PCR laboratory, as well as new design and operating procedures, when the Viking Star comes to Oslo, Norway in mid-November but further information is yet forthcoming. We hope that labs at sea will be instituted worldwide to get all of us back to traveling STAT!

About Viking

Viking was founded in 1997 and offers destination-focused journeys on rivers, oceans and lakes around the world. Designed for experienced travelers with interests in science, history, culture and cuisine, Chairman Torstein Hagen often says Viking offers guests "the thinking person's cruise" in contrast to mainstream cruises. In its first five years of operation, Viking has been rated the #1 ocean cruise line in Travel + Leisure's 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 "World's Best" Awards. In addition to the Travel + Leisure honors, Viking has also been honored multiple times on Condé Nast Traveler's "Gold List" as well as recognized by Cruise Critic as "Best Overall" Small-Mid size ship in the 2018 Cruisers' Choice Awards, "Best River Cruise Line" and "Best River Itineraries," with the entire Viking Longships® fleet being named "Best New River Ships" in the website's Editors' Picks Awards. For additional information, contact Viking at 1-800-2-VIKING (1-800-284-5464) or visit For Viking's award-winning enrichment channel, visit

(SOURCE Viking)

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Cypress Bar: One of the Best Lounges to Channel Your Inner Southern Charm with a Dose of Nostalgia and Amazing Libations

At a time when it feels like we really need it, enjoying a new drinking establishment is a welcome experience. But what makes a bar really special? We've always said: "When it's a place that you love so much you can’t wait to experience it all over again." In 2020, that seems less cliche than ever!

This was an exciting trip for LTD! Not only were we able to visit a one of our favorite cities, but we could immerse ourselves in the unique heritage of the Bayou State. This was our third venture away following the COVID-19 pandemic that caused a worldwide shutdown of most travel and our experience was all we hoped for! Our trip started at the Southern Hotel in Covington, Louisiana on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain and it was a treat to enjoy the dining, natural beauty, music, libations and most of all people that you will find in and around NOLA in one surprising hidden gem: The Southern Hotel.

Our first night, before heading to dinner, we started at Cypress Bar for a cocktail. We were drawn in  by the decor and wall murals, but soon discovered that we didn't want to leave because of the quality of the drinks and staff that made us feel we have known them for a lifetime. Now when we say drinks, that is merely vocabulary. In reality, these are not drinks or cocktails, but culinary and artistic experiences just like the Southern Hotel is peppered with at every turn.  

We sat down with the Southern Hotel's beverage director, Shannon Stansbury, to talk with him in detail about the Cypress Bar. A Covington native, who has also lived all over the USA, Shannon has great insight into the community where he has decided to raise a family. According to Shannon, while the Southern Hotel is already located in the Deep South, guests say all the time that "time slows down," and that alone tells you that you are in for an experience.